From a recent RetailWire study of stores’ return policies:
More than a tool to drive sales or margins, a store’s return policy should be considered a marketing tool. It may seem counterintuitive that the most lenient policies are most helpful to a retailer’s results, but those policies really represent a key trust-building tool with customers and a way to build consumer loyalty over the long haul.
My experience at Kohl’s — which has always had lenient policies in place — reinforces my perception. Individual buyers may have cringed (the customer returning a watch for credit that he ran over with his truck), but the big picture told a key story about the brand.
One caveat: Stores with liberal return policies are now grappling with the amount of online-only purchases being returned to brick-and-mortar stores. While this is a “cost of doing business” as an omnichannel retailer, it doesn’t mean that the logistical solutions are easy.